Friday, November 17, 2017

Safe, Protected, Secure

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“?He will cover you with his feathers, and
under his wings you will find refuge…?”
—Psalm 91:4

Throughout Scripture, there are several references to the protection afforded a newborn by its mother. The instinct of the one who has given birth is most always to protect the newborn until it can care for itself.

In Psalm 91:4 to explain God’s loving care, the Psalmist calls forth the image of a mother bird which lines the nest with feathers and then protectively covers the newborn with her wings:

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge…

But, we can see this kind of protection in many species, including human beings. At least we can most of the time.

One aspect of our downward spiraling society that so shocks me is the cavalier, yet prevailing, attitude toward the discarding of an unborn human baby through abortion.

Earlier this week, I listened carefully to someone I greatly admire and respect try to explain to me how the majority of our society justifies what to me seems like a heartless and horrible act. He was not asserting his own beliefs. Rather, he was trying to help me understand, as he believes he does, the view from the left.

He opined that most people do not believe a recently conceived unborn is yet a human being. He talked about how millions of natural, spontaneous abortions take place throughout the world each year. He explained that if all those naturally aborted fetuses ended up in heaven—that is, would have souls—heaven would overflow with trillions of beings that had never been alive on earth.

He continued to explain that, therefore, the unborn must not have souls until they reach a certain time period after conception. A time period that no one knows for certain.

Thus, when a woman decides to abort an unborn, for whatever reason, she is not committing murder. The unborn is not a human being because it has no soul. It’s just a bunch of cells. He likened abortion to the removal of a wart from the back of one’s hand.

I sat in stunned silence.

I thanked him for explaining this to me. As the call ended, I felt sick inside. My spirit utterly rebelled at his explanation.

The decision of which fetus will be born is not a decision for man to make. It is a decision that only God should make. At least that’s my opinion. Apparently, I am in an ever-diminishing minority.

Abortion pushes against the very protective nature toward their offspring that God has imbued within human beings. I am glad that when a new believer responds to God’s call to acknowledge the gift of eternal life, God doesn’t decide to perform an that will deny that one eternal life.

At the start of another new day, let’s remember that God watches over us with a loving care that models for us the way we should care for others—particular those He has placed in our charge. Just as the bear in the photo that accompanies this blog post has wrapped her arms around her cubs, so God has wrapped His loving arms around us. And, that is a very good thing.

Oh, by the way, I have absolutely no problem believing that heaven could easily hold trillions of naturally aborted and stillborn babies. In fact, I’m counting on it.

In fact, I believe that every aborted unborn belongs to God through a very special act of His mercy, love and grace.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

How Will We Know Where To Go

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“?In your unfailing love you will lead the
people you have redeemed. In your strength
you will guide them to your holy dwelling.”
—Exodus 15:13

During a worship time at summer camp when I was a senior in high school and working on the camp staff, I sat in the tabernacle listening to an excellent message delivered by Rev. Lionel Sayers. Rev. Sayers was a man who had come to the pastorate after a career with the telephone company. He always preached with a very practical approach to the Scriptures.

On this occasion, Rev. Sayers was urging the high school-age campers to commit themselves to following the pathway that God would open up before them. He talked about his own experience and how he had come to know about the claims of Jesus.

He explained how easy it was to stray off the path of righteousness. He reminded the students that the Holy Spirit has come alongside every person who believes in Jesus. The Spirit will illuminate the pathway and help each devoted follower of Jesus to stay on that righteous path.

As he drew his sermon to a close, a young man who was going to enter high school in the fall leaned over to me and asked, “How will we know where to go?”

I stayed after the service and talked with this young man for probably 45 minutes. I opened my Bible and shared some key Scriptures with him. As I was doing this, I silently prayed that God would give me the right words to say—words that might truly help this young man follow Jesus in a more devoted way.

I have no idea whether I helped him or not. In fact, I am ashamed to admit that I do not even remember his name.

I am hoping that, when we all gather at the feet of Jesus, perhaps this young man will make himself known to me. For whenever I have thought about him over the years, I have prayed that God has helped him stay on the right pathway.

In singing a song of praise to God, the children of Israel, led by Moses, sang these words found in Exodus 15:13:

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.

It is God who keeps us on the right pathway. He alone can nudge to the right or to the left when we start to go off the path and into the unknown, dense woods of sin that surround us. God will always help us to persevere, to stay on the path, to keep moving forward in our spiritual lives.

As we begin a new day, let’s pray and ask the Holy Spirit to stay close to us, to lead us, to guide us, to open up the pathway ahead of us. And, let’s determine to obediently follow the way God shows us to go.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Who is Like You

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“?Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?
Who is like you—majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory, working wonders???”
—Exodus 15:11

It is startling to realize that we hold within us the very image of God. Genesis 1:26-27 records these words:

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Our puny human brain cannot comprehend the magnificence of the idea that we bear God’s image: the Imago Dei. God is so far above us in every way that to think we carry His image is, as I said at the beginning of this blog post, startling.

In praising God for the deliverance the children of Israel received from God, Moses led the Jews in a very long and detailed song of praise. Here’s just one sentence of that song, as recorded in Exodus 15:11:

Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

All around them, the Jews saw other people worshipping a wide variety of gods. But, the Jews realized that Jehovah, their God, was far greater, more powerful, more loving, more protective than any of the other gods that other people worshipped. Thus, the Jews very rightly sang this song of praise.

We need to grasp, as much as we can, an awareness of how great God is. He is above all else. He created all things. The universe holds together at His bidding. His holiness has imbued all creation with a distinctive that knows the difference between righteousness and unrighteousness.

As we begin a new day, let’s be certain to keep in the center of our thoughts how truly magnificent our God really is. Our only response to this truth is to praise Him and do everything we can to glorify and magnify His holy name.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Gain of Redemption

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Therefore, since we have been justified through
faith, we have peace with God through our Lord
Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access
by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
—Romans 5:1-2

In yesterday’s blog post, I narrated the story about my seventh grade homeroom teacher. If you missed it, I urge you to scroll back and read that post. It really serves as a prelude to this post for today.

You see, yesterday, I wrote about how the holiness of God’s nature will always ultimately require Him to punish sin. Make no mistake about it. God will someday tip the scales of His eternal justice in favor of righteousness.

Dr. Martin Luther King is quoted as saying, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Dr. King was right, though I strongly suspect that he and I might view that statement in very different ways. At least, those people who have made so-called “social justice” their principal watchword will use Dr. King’s statement as one of hope that in our society we really are getting better and better. In fact, they assert, we are getting better and better to the point where one day justice will prevail on this earth.

Now I must tell you that I genuinely respect their right to hold to their belief. But, I think they are absolutely wrong, at least in the conclusions they draw from the way they interpret Dr. King’s statement.

I believe that, with great clarity, Scripture teaches that we have been on a downward trajectory since God first created man and woman as sinless beings who bear His divine image, and placed them in a perfectly created Garden of Eden. The first beings to rebel against God in disobedience were Lucifer and his legion of following angels. God cast them out of heaven and restricted them to domicile on the earth. (Isaiah 14:15, Ezekiel 28:16-17, and Revelation 12:7-12)

Lucifer, or Satan, then tempted mankind by prompting Eve to distort what God had commanded. Namely, that humans not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That tree resided in the center of the Garden. (To understand this distortion, carefully read Genesis 2:17 and compare it with Genesis 3:2-3.)

Once Eve was beguiled by Satan, plucked the fruit, ate it, and gave it to Adam, Adam then ate it willingly and knowingly. Adam knew full well he was sinning against the sole commandment that God had given him. As I have often asserted in this blog, Eve was deceived, but Adam sinned willingly. And so, the sin of disobedience against the holiness of God entered our world.

In punishing Adam and Eve, God indicated that the inheritance of their sin would pass to all humans who would come after them. And, not only would that sin stain all future humans, those future humans would be bent toward sin and would sin of their own accord. (Genesis 3:16-19)

Because sin begets sin—that is to say that one sin leads to more and more sin—the arc of the moral universe has indeed been long, but it bends toward God taking the ultimate action required by His holiness and His justice. So, in a very real sense, Dr. King and I agree that the long arc of the moral universe bends toward justice—but, it is a justice supplied by our holy God, not the ever-increasing goodness of mankind.

(And, by the way, I’m not at all certain that Dr. King didn’t actually believe as I do. It’s quite possible that those who have come after him have distorted the meaning of Dr. King’s words for their own political and social purposes. But, I will have to wait to ask Dr. King in heaven to see if I’m right.)

So, while yesterday I wrote about God’s judgment, today I must write about His mercy, grace, and abiding love. For those qualities of God, which purposely and purposefully flow out of His holiness, are the very qualities that have given us our way of escape.

When God chose us to belong to Himself—before the creation of the earth—He did so knowing that, to satisfy the justice that His holiness demanded, He would have to provide a pathway of redemption for us. We could not and cannot redeem ourselves. We are stained by sin and cannot possibly, of our own volition—that is, of our own will, provide redemption from sin.

So, God sent His one and only Son, Jesus—the ultimate of sinless perfection because the Son is God Himself—to die in our place and to rise from the dead, conquering sin, and death, and Satan.

The Apostle Paul, writing in Romans 4, in order to describe the moral arc of faith through Abraham, declares boldly in Romans 5:1-2:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is both the judge and justifier. He is the source of genuine justice. He is the One whose holiness demands that the penalty of sin be paid. He is the One who has made provision to pay that penalty. He is the One who has us stand before Him and pronounces us clean of sin because He sees that we are covered by the redeeming blood of the Lamb, Jesus.

As we begin a new day, let’s recognize that while all around us society only gets worse and worse, we have already been declared faultless before the throne of God’s justice. And, a natural outgrowth of our redemption is our desire to share God’s plan for true life with others. Let’s not hesitate to share with gentleness and kindness.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Price of Disobedience

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“?If you do not obey the Lord, and if you
rebel against his commands, his hand will
be against you, as it was against your fathers.”
—1 Samuel 12:15

In seventh grade, 1959, I had a very special homeroom teacher. She had taught junior high school science for 42 years. Yes, that means she first walked into a classroom in 1917, fresh out of a two-year teaching course in what was then call a “Normal School.” She was an excellent teacher. She had a world of experience. And, she had kept up with developments in both education and science.

But, for all intents and purposes, she looked like what I can best describe as “some old, ragged street person.” Now, this was a time before we even called homeless individuals “street people.” But, that is how she looked to her twelve-year-old students.

One of my classmates was utterly incorrigible. He had caused trouble in school from the time he entered Kindergarten. His behavior had not improved through the years. He did become sneakier in trying to hide his generally evil intentions. But, he was disruptive, annoying, and generally a pain to both teachers and his fellow students.

In homeroom, he started his day by doing something to disrupt the class. The very first day of school, he did something outrageous and the teacher did not react. He did something else outrageous the second day, and, again, the teacher did not react. He behaved the same way for the next three days of the week.

One of his fellow students asked him why he kept misbehaving when it did not seem to get a rise out of the teacher. His answer was instructive: “She’s such an old bat and she’s so blind she probably can’t even see what I’m doing. So, I’m gonna keep doing whatever I want to do!”

The next week, we all waited to see what this twelve-year-old thug would do next. Sure enough, he did something that in any other class would have gotten him suspended. The teacher didn’t even acknowledge that anything had happened. The next day, same thing—and, so it went for the remaining days of the second week of school.

The third week of seventh grade, the misbehaving student entered the classroom and before he even took his seat, started a ruckus. Again, the teacher didn’t seem to even notice. Second day of the third week brought another terrible action. It seemed as if he could do anything he wanted and the teacher would not even react. In fact, she wouldn’t even raise her eyes from whatever she was reading on her desk.

The fourth week of school began with an extraordinary tension in the homeroom. We all waited to see what new level of evil this “bad boy” anti-hero would bring to us. As he walked into the room, he sneered some comment in the direction of the teacher. To the shock and amazement of everyone, the teacher jumped up out of her chair, rushed to where the bad boy was standing, grabbed him firmly by the ear and led him screaming from the classroom, down the hall, to the Principal’s Office. His blood-curdling screams left us dazed and confused.

When the teacher returned to the classroom, she sat down quietly for a moment and then in a soft, but firm, voice addressed the rest of us in her homeroom. “I have watched carefully the behavior of Mr.—and she named the student—for the last three weeks. What he didn’t realize is that I had been forewarned of his behavior coming into this homeroom.

“You see, I had previously had his three brothers. And, they all behaved just as he did. They all come from a terrible family home situation. I tried to extend every possible opportunity to this young man to change his behavior. I thought perhaps he would tire of his foolishness and settle down. When he did not, I had no choice but to mete out the justice he had so richly earned.

“Let this be a lesson to all of you. Whenever in this life you think you are getting away with something, please remember what happened in your seventh grade homeroom. You may appear to get away with evil for a time, but there will always—always—come a day of judgment.”

Obviously, I have never forgotten this incident that happened all those 57 years ago. In our nation, founded on the great Judeo-Christian ethic, we have strayed far from God. As a society, we have sneered at Him every time we entered the homeroom of life. We would do well to heed the words of the Prophet Samuel—the last of the Hebrew Judges—as recorded in 1 Samuel 12:15:

If you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your fathers.

Contrary to what some Christians believe, God will not always look away from the evil our nation perpetrates. A Day of Judgment is coming.

So, in our own lives we do well to put aside our pet sins. Instead, we should be quick to confess our sins, quick to repent, quick to make restitution, and quick to receive God’s reconciliation that He gives us through His Son, Jesus.

We must never, ever, forget that a time of judgment awaits those who disobey God’s commands. That’s why, as His ambassadors, we have an awesome responsibility to make much of Jesus in every aspect of our lives.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Clean and Holy

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“That is what some of you were. But you
were washed, you were sanctified, you
were justified in the name of the Lord
Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
—1 Corinthians 6:11

Have you ever gotten really dirty? I don’t mean a little dusty. I mean really, really dirty.

Perhaps you helped a friend change the engine or the transmission of that friend’s vehicle. When the job was done, you were covered in grease and grime. Or maybe, you helped someone dig a trench so that a footer could be poured for a new house. The soil was mostly clay. It was tough going, but at the end you reached your goal below the frost line. You also recognized that you were now a mud ball of soil and dirt.

The next step in your transformation from hard-working helper back to somewhat normal-looking human being was to take a shower or bath to remove the dirt that covered you from head to toe. Once you stepped out of the shower or tub and dried off, you looked much more like you normally did. You looked clean, smelled clean, you were clean!

We were born in sin and continue to commit sin as a part of our normal lives on this earth. Sin has stained us deeply. We need cleansing. Jesus provides a way to make us clean from our sin. No matter what those sins might be, Jesus is the cleaning agent that washes that sin stain away.

The Apostle Paul described a long list of sins that had formerly imprisoned the people gathered in the church at Corinth. But, he concludes with these words, found in 1 Corinthians 6:11:

That is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

The cleansing power of Jesus makes us “just as if we’d never sinned.” That’s what justification is all about. More so, Jesus—through the power of the Holy Spirit—makes us holy, or sanctified, so that we may stand in the Presence of a holy God.

This day, let’s be grateful that we have been washed in the shed blood of God’s precious Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. And, let us recognize that holiness is now the goal for which we strive, as we allow the Spirit to move us along the pathway that He has stretched out before us.

As we walk forward, we can have the great joy of sharing with others the blessing of being thoroughly clean and beautifully holy. And that, dear ones, is what our new life in Christ is all about.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Lazy and Shiftless

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Laziness brings on deep sleep,
and the shiftless man goes hungry.”
—Proverbs 19:15

When you think of yourself, what kind of image comes to mind? Are you someone who jumps up each day ready to face the world, full of energy, anxious to get to work, willing to do what needs to be done? Or, have you become lethargic or lazy because things haven’t gone exactly as you hoped they would go

King Solomon must have been surrounded by all different kinds of people. At least in his words of wisdom, he seems to address a wide range of conditions that afflict human beings. Notice what he writes in Proverbs 19:15:

Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless man goes hungry.

We can almost chuckle that Solomon felt it was necessary to state such a truth. But, he was probably frustrated that not everyone was as energetic as he was. Not everyone faced the day with a vigor that would carry them through the day.

As Christians, much is required of us in our work on behalf of Christ and His Kingdom. This work requires our full attention, our full energy, and our full commitment to do what needs to be done.

While I don’t agree with everything that humorist Garrison Keillor does or says, in creating his imaginary product, “Powdermilk Buscuits,” the commercial for this tasty treat includes these words, “Powdermilk Buscuits that give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.”

That’s what we need in our lives as believers. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to have the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.

At the beginning of another new day, let’s remember that we have no reason to sink back into a laziness and lethargy that saps our strength and hinders our work for the Kingdom. Rather, we need to approach this day with a spring in our step, a song on our lips, and a God-breathed love in our hearts. If we do, we will not fall into a deep sleep, nor go hungry.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.